Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Tonsillectomy

I am a weirdo nursing student who is intrigued by medical things so this post contains pictures some people my find gross and other things people may find gross.
Read with caution. :)

During Fall of 2012 I was the most consistently sick I have been in my life. Throat infection after throat infection, cold after cold. I tried chalking it up to stress from nursing school or working with kids. But eventually, the doctor at the urgent care clinic started recognizing me and he recommended I see an ENT. In my Health Assessment class one day we were doing throat exams, and I learned my tonsils were huge! And apparently it's not normal to not be able to swallow food easily for months at a time. Go figure. So, over Christmas break I visited the ENT. He recommended I get my tonsils taken out. My tonsils are naturally large, contain many small gaps and grooves called crypts, that bacteria can easily hide in. I've even had tonsil stones before, which is collected food and bacteria that forms in the little pockets and makes a stone. If only they were pearls. Anyway, the general consensus was that my tonsils were a big contributing factor in me getting sick so much. I was nervous as all get out, because I'd never had surgery before. Apparently at the same time, my appendix got jealous and decided it wanted out first. This took up my arranged week off school, so instead of my scheduled February tonsillectomy, I had to push it back to May 8th. I got a cold about May 4th or so, but I went to my pre-op, doc checked me out and cleared me to have the surgery anyway! So I went out and stocked up on goods I thought I may be able to consume in the coming week or so, ate my "last supper" of McDonalds, got very little sleep and woke up at 6:45 to get ready to go to the hospital!

Tonsillectomies are outpatient procedures, so I didn't actually have to go to the "big" hospital, but the Outpatient Surgery Center at Athens Regional. It was in a big old timey house that oddly turned into a hospital setting once you walked back down the hall. I got checked in and taken to my room. The doctor came in and spoke with me as well as the anesthesiologist. He actually had to run immediately out of the room because a patient was having a laryngospasm, so that was a bit unsettling. BUT before he left, he told me the nurse would be in shortly to give me an "IV margarita" and I was quite okay with that!
This is Nicole before Versed.

This is Nicole after Versed.

Happy Nicole!

So after my "margarita" they wheeled me back to the OR. Strangely enough, a nurse or surgical tech one recognized me as I was lying there from working at Pump It Up. After we were all acquainted, the nurse anesthetist put the mask on me for about 15-20 seconds. She took it off for a brief moment and said, "You're going to start to get a buzz" and I replied, "Oh, it's already there!" And I faded off to Neverneverland and said goodbye to these suckers! 

Next thing I know I was waking up in Recovery and being told they not only took my regular tonsils but they took my adenoids too! I'd asked the doctor beforehand if he was going to take both and he said there was probably only about a 10% chance I'd need both taken, because your adenoids usually shrink by adulthood. I guess I had big adenoids too! I was in a little discomfort, but I was given Dilaudid, so I was no where near being in real pain. After I drank some water and came out of the haze for a little bit, they rolled me back into the actual recovery room where my dad was waiting. The nurse kept saying she was so surprised with how well I looked and how good I was doing. My vitals were pretty good overall and I just "looked" really good. Oh what a false sense of hope. Haha. The surgery had gone well, at least. I was doing so well that they discharged me early, around noon. The nurse asked if I wanted my first dose of liquid Lortab, what I'd be on at home. I asked what she thought and she said she thought I didn't look like I needed it. So, I didn't take it. NEVER REFUSE PAIN MEDICINE WHEN GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITY. As I was getting dressed, I felt a little more discomfort. When the nurse was wheeling me down to the car and we were in the elevator, she noticed I was hurting because I wasn't talking at all. By the time we got to CVS and got my medicine and got home, I was hurting pretty bad. They'd given me an ice collar to wear to help with the pain and inflammation so I was steady rotating my ice packs, took my medicine and tried to lay down. I pretty much rested the rest of the day and got on my regular pain medicine schedule! It's pretty crazy that with modern medicine, you can go to the hospital at 7, have body parts removed and be out by noon! 

NEXT TIME: The Recovery!